Tossed in a tray at the corner store, discarded on a dirty sidewalk or a parking lot, pennies aren’t very useful anymore. But in those days, we were highly treasured. Mine has been a journey to discover genuine value. To sense worth, my deepest desire.

Extracted from the finest copper mines, we were designed for a noble purpose. A tribute to the centennial of Lincoln’s birth, the first coin ever to bear the likeness of an American president. I was privileged to be among the very first ones ever minted. Proudly, the Minter stamped the finishing touch next to Lincoln’s image on our shiny copper surfaces.


Enthusiasm had grown for months. What a fantastic event, the day we were first displayed. The entire city packed the streets with parades and music. Children pressed through the crowds for a glimpse of what grownups gathered to see.

The nation obsessed over the new coins. One by one they dispersed us among the anxious visitors, as if divine treasure had been discovered.

Before we could even say goodbye, one was gone with a girl from Brazil. Twins from Spain took two cents each. And a dozen pennies were delivered to the Prince of Denmark, or so they say. It’s rumored that the nephew of Levi Strauss tucked a penny in the pocket of his jeans, where it remained for seventy-five years.

With a deep sense of pride, Americans anxiously sought the new pennies. Honoring the sixteenth president in this particular way proved to be a huge success.

Like beggars eager for bread, citizens across the nation waited patiently, but some went home with empty hands and broken hearts. There simply were not enough to go around.

A tall thin gentleman, whose grey moustache curled on each side of his cheeks like a vine, claimed me for his prize. Gripping a fancy walking cane topped with an ivory handle, he gazed with gladness at my shiny face. Considering his stylish Derby and tweed overcoat, I thought a person of royalty must have handpicked me.

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